Sat at the twinkly bar, in the Queens Hotel Leeds, with an untouched celebratory drink in hand, we breathed a collective sigh that can only come from the knowledge that you have just witnessed something incredibly special.
‘I have waited for this day for the last 6 years’ I said. ‘There is enough content to make an entire documentary let alone a 10 minute film’
Brad, our extremely talented film maker who the previous week had been working with the likes of Selina Gomez and Jamie Oliver, had a very tricky editing job on his hands. We bid farewell and wished him good luck, secretly all relieved that we didn’t have that responsibility on our shoulders. What would you cut out? How could you decide what stayed and what didn’t make the film? It was all so on point, all so honest and ALL so important for people to hear.
5 young adults invited to come tell us parts of their story and share what messages for change they wanted to give back to the sector. 5 young adults all with different beginnings and all with different experiences, some we knew well and some we had never met before. We had no idea how the day would go; would people turn up, would they be ok with the camera, the questions, had we prepared everyone enough?
Despite all these worries though, we knew we were in a safe pair of hands and that we needed to trust the process; and it didn’t take long for us to realise that our fears were baseless, because as each person turned up the group grew louder, more laughter flowed and as workers we just kept giving each other that knowing look when you know you’ve hit on something special because it was absolutely effortless.
Each person had an interview where Brad settled them in front of the camera, made them laugh, learnt what they ate (or didn’t eat) for breakfast, twiddled with the lighting for the umpteenth time and then started asking the important stuff. We sat in on each interview for support and prompt if needed, but it wasn’t needed. Each person took each question rolled it around their mouth and spat the answer right out. Almost as if they had been waiting a long time to be asked those questions.
Brad shared his unique position as filmmaker, explaining that often people rarely get to talk uninterrupted and genuinely feel heard, but the camera is the ultimate ear and Brad does not interrupt. He knows he can only use a small amount of what each person says, but that isn’t the point, and the person being interviewed also knows that. I was in awe of their ability to express themselves and be such story tellers.
It was different to the film ‘Voices’ we made 5 years ago with our teenage Adopteens members. There was more freedom with what they were saying, mixed with more self belief and a maturity that comes with being a young 20 something with a little more weight of responsibility on your shoulders.
I don’t think the two films are comparable because they each tell the story at a point in time in the lives of those individuals who shared their stories, and each film has a different purpose. They are however beautifully complementary. “Adopted for Life’ is the perfect sequel to ‘Voices’ and I very much hope the series doesn’t end there.
What has been created within both of these films, Voices and Adopted for Life is the very essence of what it means to be adopted from those affected. It is honest, raw and beautifully impactful. These are the voices of a generation who are passionate and resolute in their desire for things to change and their messages are clear.
So it is over to those who make the changes. The policy makers, social care leaders and social workers, teachers and health professionals we urge you to sit up and listen and allow these voices and experiences to influence what you do, how you do it and why you do it and we look forward to seeing what this looks like.
PAC-UK presents: Adopted for life
Tanya Killick | October 2021
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